Year Four: The Reward for Year Three

It is believed that year three of the OHS spinning certificate course makes or breaks you. They say that if you get through level three, you will most likely graduate the program.

I’m not going to lie, there were times this past year where I had seriously contemplated hitting the pause button. I didn’t want to quit. Oh hell no! I worked too hard to get to where I am. However, I did contemplate more than once if this was the right time to do this course. This year has seen a LOT of change in my life, both positive and not so much. There has been a LOT of things happen that were out of my hands. It prevented me from getting my assignments done on time. I was determined to get them done though. That’s how I am – I start something, you can bet your bippy that I’m going to finish it! (even all of my yarny UFO’s will be done at some point!). I was so embarrassed when I had to ask for extensions due to circumstances beyond my control. When I explained what was going on to my instructors, they were so wonderful and understanding. I can’t express how grateful I am. Not once have they ever questioned me. I beat myself up, but they had nothing to do with that. In fact, I have been lovingly “told” a couple of times to knock it off, I’m only one person and I’m doing everything in my power. It was reiterated once again today that as long as I’m in communication if something comes up, we can always negotiate.

To me, that speaks volumes. They believe in me. They have believed in me when I haven’t believed in myself. I feel like I’m in the middle of running a marathon and they are cheering me on, wanting me to finish just as badly as I want to finish. That makes me even more determined to finish. Not only have I promised Mom, I owe them too for all of the time and energy they have invested in me over the past 3 years (it’ll be 6 years for Wendy).

This year has such a different feeling. It’s so much lighter. When I saw my classmates, it felt like a big family gathering. I will confess that my anxiety was running a little high due to one classmate. I won’t bother wasting any more energy on her – SHE IS GONE!!!!! The energy in that room this year has just been so wonderful. I don’t think I’ve smiled this much since I started this course. And it’s not like I’ve been miserable!

Saturday and Sunday saw us spinning exotic fibres. We started off with alpaca and llama. Then went on to camel. I think there was another one in there, but I’m pretty tired right now and I can’t remember. I love how our instructor reminded us of all the techniques we know now. I think the difference with this year is that we have options. In the previous years, the preparation and spinning style was set out for us. This year it’s whatever works for us. Having all of these options seemed a little overwhelming! I double-check with my instructor… “Am I understanding this right? We’re using whatever it is we have in our skills toolbox to achieve our best skeins?” She said I was correct and was hoping that that’s what we would take away from this course.

On a side note, I was amused at this whole new approach with spinning. I’m more or less at the same place in my martial arts journey. We spend the first part learning the skills/basics and when/where to apply them. After that, it’s blown wide open to use whatever it is we need to use to get the desired result. It’s the “art” part of martial arts! While both art forms are so different, my enthusiasm is very similar for both. I’m sure it’s the art and creativity I get to practice and release with both.

The last day and a half was spent in the dye room. We were playing with indigo. I have to say that I really enjoyed dyeing this time around. Maybe it was my partner, Mary-Lyn (I had never met her before Saturday – this woman is freaking awesome!). Maybe it was the absence of a bossy, domineering, controlling, sabotaging, narcissistic… Oh yeah, I wasn’t going there… Maybe it was the indigo itself. Or the instructor and her assistant. I think it was all of that. I’m looking forward to my assignment. We have to use 2 methods that we have learned. And then we have to do some overdyeing. I already have myrobalan from my project last year. I’m going to fire up another pot of that bad boy. I’m also planning on getting a nature dye that goes red. I’m not sure which one yet.

One other thing that is different this year is when our dye days were scheduled. For the first three years, they were always the last day and a half of the course – Friday afternoon and Saturday. By that time, we are all so worn out. I think having to do extra math and having the additional pressure of your classmates relying on you to get a perfect dye pot for their samples… It’s all just too much. It will be interesting to see if Friday and Saturday are different this year. At least if you’re tired and punchy, you don’t have to worry about letting anyone down. You only have to answer to yourself if you screw up. I have a feeling that I’m going to be just as enthusiastic Saturday morning as I will be tomorrow.

This afternoon we were introduced to silk. We started off with Tussah silk. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. However, I need to speed up my treadles. Then we spun some Bombyx (cultivated) silk. The really funny thing is that I had an easier time getting a consistent yarn with it! It’s a lot more slippery than the Tussah. It was weird. What was also weird is that I spun an awesome sample “over the finger.” That is NOT my go-to method. In fact, it’s my second weakest method (long-draw being my weakest). I showed my instructor. She told me to save the sample and aim to spin my homework like it because it would be perfect. She was so impressed that she called her assistant over (her assistant was the woman who had taught this section of the course for many years before passing the torch – she knows her stuff!). She was impressed. So there’s hope for me! I shouldn’t say that… If there wasn’t hope for me, my instructors wouldn’t give me the push/gentle kick in the rear I need to keep going.

When I’ve been at my wheel these last few days, I’ve felt the same way I did when I first started spinning. Excited. Ecstatic. At peace. Smiling the whole time. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed spinning. I think I just lost why I was doing it for awhile. I’m so used to having to fight to be happy in many of the other areas in my life. I have no control of that. I do have control over this though. And I don’t have to fight. I just have to be. I have to remember that the chances of putting out perfect samples may or may not happen. Beth “told” me today… It came up about learning curves. I was saying about how when a karate student gets frustrated when they’re learning a new kata. I say “How many times have you done it?” “Once.” “Is it going to be perfect then?” “No.” “There you go. If you’ve been doing it for 10 years and you’re still at the same level, THEN be concerned.” Well, I was told to practice what I preach hehehe

We’re not half way through the course and I’m just flying high, ready to dive in to the homework. Even thinking about tomorrow, my heart starts to race and I have butterflies in my stomach. Geez, it’s like being in puppy love (except that I know that it won’t end up in a messy breakup!).

I’m hoping that I will have more time to update this blog. As I mentioned earlier, this year has just been absolute chaos. I’m hoping to be able to manage my time better. Although even those with the best time management skills would have difficulty with the things that I’ve had to endure. I got through it so far though. Again, this is where I will never be able thank my instructors enough.

Tomorrow is another day. I so can’t wait!


Choas Isn’t Always Negative

So I was on a roll there for a bit with the posting in January. I had everything balanced – my assignments, pattern testing, the occasional order (with the understanding I can’t give a completion date), the blog posting… In addition to the everyday awesomeness of being a single mom. 

Well, something awesome happened that shook things up. I’m not going to go into detail at the moment, but I will share when the time is right. I will say though that it left me with a LOT to do in a short period of time. All of this with spinning assignments due. 

In addition to that, some family things have come up that see me having to be even more flexible. I don’t mind one bit. I always find a way. However, it’s added responsibility and requires more balancing on my part. Meh. Nothing I haven’t done before.

Sadly though, this means that my assignments have had to take a back seat lately. I am NOT going to let that stop me from finishing them though. It kills me that things just keep getting hurled in my direction that prevent me from getting them out on time (like yesterday I was finishing some up and the batteries died in my freaking label maker – C’MON!!!!), but it’s all out of my hands. I have been/will be in touch with my instructors to keep them updated. 

At this point, I have no intention of quitting. Yes, it adds some stress to my life. However, this stress is different. I have consciously chosen this stress. This stress gives me some reprieve from some of the shit flung upon me resulting from my past mistakes. This is my reward for keeping my head high and having to keep flushing the toilet on the past. Eventually, the pipes will get cleared. There are plumbers on the job.There will always be some toilet-flushing because that is life. I get it. I continue to keep the faith that that which is clogging the pipes now will also move forward. Someday. 

No, I have shifted my perpective towards this course. I think I said that before. I will keep saying it too. I’m not here to get the highest marks. I not here to compete with anyone. I’m here to become the best spinner I can be. I’m here for the feedback and knowledge of the instructors we have. If it means I have to lose marks because I can’t get my assignments in on time, so be it. I’ve stopped beating myself up about it because I’m only one person. I can look myself in the mirror and know that I am doing EVERYTHING in my power to make this work.

I don’t broadcast a typical day in the life of me. It’s nobody’s business. If I did though, I think a lot of people would be shocked. I think many think I sit around on my ass all day with a hook and yarn in my hand when I’m not on Facebook. Oh, how shocked those people would be…

Right now though, I am taking a break. I’m pet sitting a cat and a dog. The cat wanted out on the enclosed deck. It’s a beautiful day, something that has been rare lately. So I decided to join her (figured it was a good opportunity to sneak in an update too).I just melted in a chair, basking in the sun. I’ve been going non-stop this week, so I’ve made the excutive decision to take five. I earned it. After the sun is no longer direct, I will get back to work (it gets cold in here!). For right now though… Butt planted in chair. It’s so blissful out here. It’s like I’ve plugged my soul in and it’s recharging. I need that. It’s not that I’m not happy. Quite the contrary. In spite of the toilet-flushing, I can say that I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life where I’ve been more at peace. This place just nurtures that. 

Bliss -

Bliss (complete with kitty photo bomb)

I’m hoping this next week will be a little more “normal.” I will be feverishly working away on assignments though. I may not get to post until after the fact, but I plan on taking pics along the way. We’re getting into some interesting stuff – twist and grist. I’m enjoying it!

Hang on tight kids… Here we go!!!!!!!

I’m very sorry for having been so quiet recently. It seems like my world has exploded with both positive and not-so-positive events. Where do I start?!

I guess I’ll start with the not-so-positive to get it out of the way. It actually does have a happy ending. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that I am a HUGE dog lover. I have two dogs, Kirby and Panzer, but they live with my mom. When I left the “bad place”, they needed a safe place to stay. I have since acquired a place where I can technically have them. But they’re happy with Mom and she’s happy with them. Kirby came into my life 15 years ago on May 22nd. He is my first “baby boy.” He went EVERYWHERE with me. He was by my side through the darkest times, often my reason for getting out of bed. Well, two weeks ago Wednesday, we thought we were going to lose him. It appeared that he had had a stroke. I was prepared to say goodbye to him on Thursday. We took him to the vet and she told us that he had Old Dog Vestibular Disease. It looks an awful lot like a stroke, but it’s not. The chances of recovery are VERY HIGH. It’s been up and down with him, but he’s doing pretty good. He was a little weak today, but this knocked the stuffing out of him. Long story short… This was a miracle!

The day I was sitting in the vet’s office with Mom and Kirby trying to decide his fate, my phone rang. I didn’t answer it. There was a message. When I listened to it I found out that I won a bursary!!!!!!! I AM NOW ENROLLED IN THE INTERMEDIATE SPINNING PROGRAM AT FLEMING!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I will be sharing my experiences there when I go in August. I am so excited! And so grateful!

Last, but not least… I am working feverishly to stock up Finnegan Lake Gallery, Kinmount Artisans Marketplace and Fibres with some quality, unique items. And I’m having a blast! I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback and ideas for some new projects. One thing I want to try is turning slippers into shoes. I found a pattern for that on Ravelry and I’m looking forward to trying it (I don’t have the link handy, but I will post it when I start working on them).

So many wonderful, positive things going on! And there’s a moral to the story… Be careful what you wish for because it may just happen! The other one is if you’re passionate about something and your intentions are loving and clear, the Universe (God or whatever unseen force you believe in) will line it up for you!

The Fire

I was in my favorite yarn store yesterday. I picked up some bright, fun roving to spin and some yarn for a hat that I’m making for a friend of mine. (I was a good girl… I didn’t pick up anything I didn’t “need”, as difficult as it was!)

When I went to check out, I started talking to the co-owner (it’s a husband and wife team). I had said that I couldn’t wait to spin that roving up. He said said no doubt, it’s exciting because you never really know the results you’re going to get until you actually start spinning it. I agreed. That is so exciting! Then he said something along the lines of “I envy you and my wife. When I get up in the morning, I putter around. I go out to my garden, I work in my wood shop but I don’t really have anything in particular that I want to do. When you two get up in the morning, you KNOW what you want to do. You sit down at your wheel, forget to have breakfast. But you love what you’re doing.”

He is sooooo right!

That got me to thinking about how very fortunate I am to have found my passion when I have. Sure I could have found it earlier if I was in the right place at the right time. But I’m just so grateful I have found it now! Spinning and stitching are my life! It pays the bills. Provides gifts from the heart. It provides an outlet to deal with the residual garbage in my life. It centers me.

A friend got in touch with me the other day, asking me to call her mom. She wanted me to teach spinning. So I called her. It turns out it wasn’t for her. It was for her 11 year old granddaughter. I was ecstatic to hear about somebody so young wanting to learn how to spin! I’m not a professional by any means and I told her that. But I will pass on what I know. The more people that spin in this world, the happier it will be!

I hope that what I show her will help stoke her fire. And I hope that that fire keeps burning and she keeps it stoked. My life would have been so different if I had have taken this path sooner. I wouldn’t change things, but I know I would have had a lot more outlets to deal with life.

But I am BEYOND GRATEFUL that I have the fire now 🙂

I’m in Hookin’ Love!

Just a quick note…

I finally cracked and bought the pattern for Crocodile Stitch Boots from Bonita Patterns. I’d been dragging my heels because I don’t usually purchase from designers who charge for different sizes of the same pattern. But she bundled all 3 sizes for $10. And next week is my birthday. And I’ve been drooling over these patterns for months. Sooooo….

The experiences I’ve had recently with so many designers who are new-to-me, a majority of them have been really disappointing. It’s mostly gauge issues, but there have been some sizing issues as well. So it is with great reluctance that I purchase from somebody that I have not purchased from previously. I know I’m not alone on this!

Last night I picked up my hook and things were going well. Then I hit a wall. I’ll admit that the “colourful” language came out. I figured “Here we go again… Ugh…” So I figured I would scroll down to another size to see if it was explained any different. Well, I just had to scroll down a little bit because the answer was at the top of the next page!

This pattern is so well written and clearly explained with the help of photographs. She did an AMAZING job with this pattern. I’m a so impressed and would recommend to anyone! It’s a little on the advanced side, but if you’re a patient beginner, I’m sure you could figure it out.

I think she’s ending the sale tonight. Even if you don’t get in on the $10 action, I would say that this pattern is so amazing that I would even buy the sizes separately!

A Random Act of Kindness… The Pay Back :-)

Two months ago, my son and I received one of the BIGGEST random acts of kindness anyone could ever ask for. If you want to catch up, here’s the link.

Today was my son’s followup appointment (this time there was no vomiting and he arrived with his glasses 😉 ) After what this kind soul had done for us, I felt compelled to do something in return. So I decided to make her daughter a Spiderman hat. It just occurred to me last night at about 11pm that today was his appointment. So I figured I would challenge myself. And sure enough…

I have to say that I am rather proud. I don’t know if I could always crochet that fast, but I did when it counted!

The ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL news of the day… My son doesn’t need surgery! The glasses are working like a charm and all is well. We have to go back every 6 months, but I’m totally okay with that!!!!

If you would like to make a Spiderman hat of your own, check out this link.

You’re Lucky You’re Cute!

I’m not going to lie. It SUCKS when my son has to go for the weekend. It’s way too quiet.

I swear our kitty, Charlie (CharChar), has taken it upon himself to at least help to try to fill that emptiness. I can’t sneeze without him when my Sweet Pea is gone. He cries for him. He lays beside me. He lays around my shoulders or cuddles up against my leg. Then he usually makes his way up to bed where he either sleeps on my pillow or snuggles up very close to me. (Last night was an exception… I think he was a little too comfy on the couch and didn’t want to get up!) The little brat is also notorious for jumping up on MY spot on the couch when I get up to get a drink. Yes, he’s lucky he’s cute! He also like to cuddle with “The Guys” (Little Mickey and Pooh) when my Sweet Pea isn’t here…

The greeting, after a looooong weekend away (this happens every time)…

I won’t go into detail, but yesterday there were some pretty stressful events that went down. Rather than let those thoughts about not being able to do anything about the situation in the moment consume me, I decided to shift my energy elsewhere to something I CAN control. What’s my favorite method/tool for shifting gears? My spinning wheel. And after the two days that I spent up at the college this week, that just got me wound up even more (pardon the pun! hehehe)

So last night I pulled out a chair from the table. I got my wheel and set it up. And as I turned around, this is what I saw…

Okay buddy. That’s fine. I’m just going to pick out some roving to work with. It would seem that I need your approval now?

Don’t even THINK about it! Get away from that roving you brat cat!

“I’m not touching it! I’m not touching it! You can’t give me trouble because I’m not touching it!” It’s true. While he did stare it down, not once did he touch it. I think he knows better now. His little kitty butt would be going straight into kitty time out!

I swear CharChar KNEW that a bunch of us needed a laugh. Some of my friends had also had a rough day. I posted his antics and I think he brought quite a few smiles. I’m so blessed to have such a wonderful, crazy kitty!

Once he realized that I had to vacate my spot on the couch in order to spin, he curled up and had a nap. But not before he ran around every floor in the house! So when I was able to actually start spinning, this is what I got…

My sweetie made me post this to make my Facebook friends drool. I figured I’d better comply since he bought me the wheel and all LOL

And this is what it turned into…

I had no idea it was going to turn out THAT pretty! I may have to go get some more of that roving! The cool part is that the way this roving was structured gave me an idea on how to set my own up to get similar results with different colours. Now that I have that jar for sun dyeing, I may just have to play.

I’m off to spin some more.